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Satellite TV
Free-To-Air satellite television (FTA) is a legal way to view free programming. Two bands are used; Ku band requires a 30-36” dish in most cases and C band requires a large dish, at least four feet diameter, but generally 6-12 feet. Here are some of the English language channels found on a Ku dish, on one satellite alone, in early 2010:
Christian channels- dozens
Ebru- Turkish-American, good programs; lots of cross-cultural stuff and a spiritual emphasis- mostly Islamic (with some Christian & Jewish input here and on Press TV).
Press TV- News, based in Iran, considerable Islamic content for a news network. Some programs are good, especially from the studios in Washington and London. Seldom the “Fox News version” of events and topics. Regularly features Jewish guests and runs programs on Zionism. Interesting conversations on the difference between opposing the practices of the Jewish state, versus being anti-Semitic. (All women presenters seem to wear head coverings- obligatory.)
Infomercial channels
MHz Worldview- public TV type programs and international newscasts
Russia Today
Saudi TV 2- lots of news, talk-shows & Islamic stuff; sometimes interesting. (Basically all the women seem to cover when in Saudi; I saw several with their hair down reporting from Jordan and other countries.)
Supreme Master TV- great for vegetarianism and climate change
Kuwait 2- Mostly English, including some movies. Kuwait 3- sometimes English, but often duplicates Kuwait 2.
Salaam TV- sometimes English. Islamic Shia. Sometimes interesting, especially when they quote the Bible.
Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English is a television news network launched in late 2006. Their broadcast headquarters is in Doha, Qatar, with three other centers in London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur. AJE has been described by various commentators as being a mouthpiece, either for Zionists or Al Qaeda, or as being anti-American and anti-Israel. Having been a regular viewer since its inception, I find the claim that AJE is promoting either Al Qaeda or Zionism as absurd. A wide variety of viewpoints are presented; discussion and debate is common. I see little evidence of any extreme or hateful attitudes on the part of the hosts. The owners are Arabs, so it’s not surprising that the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by Jews immigrating and/ or “settling” occupied territories is probably not viewed as “a wonderful fulfillment of Bible prophecy.” The attitude towards the US and Israel seems similar to their attitude towards any other nation; they applaud the good and bring the bad to light as well. (They also have several Arabic channels, including a documentary-, sports-, and childrens’ channel; I have almost no knowledge concerning those channels.) I’ve read that they promote terrorism, but I seldom even see them broadcast more than a few minutes of a Hezbollah leader’s speech, for example. Basically it’s world news, with a more balanced point-of-view as far as incorporating the outlook of the majority of earth- the poor. I hear much more against violence than for it. There was a detectable bias towards Obama rather than McCain, I would say, but that’s somewhat understandable with world opinion being what it was. As for the opinion expressed on Press TV of Iran, that AJE should be more radical, I disagree. The programming is certainly at least as “fair and balanced” as FoxNews, although more to the left. The main focus as I see it is advancing social and political change, intercultural understanding and press freedom. (Except in situations where local custom and safety require it, none of the women presenters wear head coverings - probably not allowed by AJE.) 

Can we tear down the walls that divide us?
Can we turn soldiers into peacemakers?
Can we learn from each other, no matter who we are?
Can man and woman be born equal?
Can we hear the earth dying?
Can we stop destroying life?
Can we promise our children, not just a brighter tomorrow,
ut a brighter today?
Can love be the most powerful weapon in the world?
Wherever we stand, whatever our point of view,

can we forget what divides us and discover what unites us?

(advertisement for QTel, the national telephone company of Qatar)

A study of 597 participants in six countries found that the longer viewers had been watching AlJazeera English, the less dogmatic they were in their opinions. Viewers found AJE to be a conciliatory media. The third main conclusion reached by the study was that viewers generally tune into particular information sources that tend to affirm their pre-existing opinions.

“90% of people’s views of Al-Jazeera are based on hearsay” -Rageh Omaar

“We are in the business of news. Our policy is to air all shades of opinion.” -Ibrahim Hilal

This satellite has several dozen foreign language channels, mostly Arabic, Iranian and Asian languages, with some French, Italian, Portuguese, etc. Some of these have US movies, etc., often with subtitles. There are radio channels also. Some scrambled (subscription) channels come through free from time to time, presumably for promotional purposes. There's usually a fashion channel. The signal from this satellite is strong enough for a maximum 36 inch dish from about 95% of the territory of the United States, excluding Alaska.


FTA satellite TV is not expensive- most people can get started for as little as U.S.$200 - $300 in equipment costs (plus a television). Since these are free channels with no monthly fees, your ongoing costs are minimal. Here are some more free English channels recently available in the US with a 30 inch dish:

FOX, ABC, PBS, PBS Kids, NASA, ABC NewsOne, ABC NewsNow, My Network TV, Research, university channels, CEA, CCTV 9, Pentagon VBA, History Channel, Bio, this (movie channel), AP channels, sports feeds, numerous religious channels, etc. 

Plus there are Spanish channels like Univision, Telefutura, Cubavision, etc. There are hundreds of channels available in other languages as well, plus radio channels, newsfeeds, music channels (some have English-language music videos), etc. In addition, there are hundreds of channels available on C-band, including lots of English and Spanish channels.

Please be aware that FTA channels have been available for years, but there is no guarantee that any particular channel will continue transmissions- there is a certain amount of turnover. Free and legal satellite TV is available to most people worldwide with a 30 inch (76 cm) dish aimed toward the clear skies over the Equator. No one can guarantee you will have a clear view of any particular satellite. Please examine your particular location to see if your signal will be blocked by buildings, mountains, or foliage. Please be advised that if you live at greater than 55 degrees latitude (Alaska or northern Canada, for example), your choice of channels will be limited. Be aware that large dishes for C-band transmissions may be banned by local ordinance or regulation.

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Excerpt from Viewpoint, MHz Networks:

.I’m Jim Zogby. My guest now is Joe Cirincione, a leading expert on nuclear policy and proliferation. He’s President of Ploughshares Fund, the largest US foundation dedicated to peace and security issues, expert advisor to Congress, and author of several books, including the Bomb Scare, the History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. There was a recent International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran, (that) said that they had much more enriched material than we had previously thought and that caused some here, and certainly in Israel to say, ‘There is a bomb in the making, very soon.’ Talk to me about that- the reality of the warning, one, and two, is there evidence that Iran has been hiding its capabilities?

Joseph Cirincione: The last part is easier to answer- No, and the IAEA was very clear about this, and I talked to the officials involved in this audit. It was just an accounting difference- one, the first estimate was an estimate of what they were able to produce, and then they got a chance to do an actual inventory, when they counted everything up, including stuff that’s still in the pipes, that would have to be scraped from the pipes, they realized there was more than they originally thought. Where Iran is at right now is that they have the capability of making a nuclear weapon, but they’re still a long way aways from actualizing that capability; that is, they now have the raw materials- they could take the low-enriched uranium that they have, put it back through the centrifuges and produce enough for maybe one bomb. It would take them several months to do that, several more months to fashion it into a device, and then of course they don’t have the method of delivery- they don’t have a device small enough to fit on a missile. But all of this would be highly observable- they’d have to kick the inspectors out, we would know what was going on, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that Iran intends to do so.

James Zogby: So the IAEA is still capable of giving the warning bells if something is up?

Joseph Cirincione: They are our key eyes and ears on the Iranian program. Iran is probably the most surveilled country in the world right now- Israel, US, everyone else is looking at it, but only the IAEA has inspectors there, on the ground, go under the roofs, into the rooms, take a look at what they actually have.

James Zogby: Has anything changed from what we observe in the Iranian intention?

Joseph Cirincione: No, nothing whatsoever, and this was just validated by the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, who said we see no evidence that Iran intends to build a nuclear weapon. What we’re now looking at is capability. And he still argued that there was some combination of force and incentives that could turn the Iranian program around.

James Zogby: Some reports there are some hidden capability, places that we don’t know that are beyond the scope of the IAEA?

Joseph Cirincione: Can’t rule that out completely, but there is no evidence that this exists.

James Zogby: What can be done at this point; the US is going to engage Iran on Afghanistan- the President sent a message to the Iranian people- it was rejected initially by the leadership. Are we in a position to use cooperation on Afghanistan to open up a broader dialogue on these other issues, or are these separate baskets and they don’t mix?

Joseph Cirincione They do mix- they have to be approached sort of, in both ways; as separate problems but also seeing them as connected. So, we have parallel interests. Iran is an enemy of the Taliban regime. Iran has a serious drug smuggling problem that comes in from Afghanistan. They have security guards dying on the Iran-Afghan border in this drug war. So they would like to stabilize Afghanistan, they would like to see a stabilized Iraq, for example. So where we have parallel interests, we could work together. But Iran’s not going to offer that cooperation without understanding what the endgame is; where is this going? Is there a security arrangement with the United States at the end of this?; can they develop a new strategic relationship? We have to make it clear, and I think President Obama is beginning to do this, that yes, we are willing to recognize the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of Iran, forge a new relationship with it- let’s sit down and start talking.

James Zogby: There is a concern in the Gulf about this entire issue, on two levels. One is… the Iranian capability question- if they get a bomb, it gives them a kind of bragging rights in the region- it’s not a question that they’ll use it across the water because the consequences would be disastrous for them and for the whole region. I’ve always said there’s no first use, ‘cause there’s really no second use either; I mean, you use it and five seconds later you’re a parking lot.

Joseph Cirincione: Exactly right.

James Zogby: It’s not that question; it’s a question of exporting the Revolution, and the concern that is raised by several Gulf countries is that Iran got emboldened during the Bush years- failure in Iraq, abandonment of the Palestinian track. Iran sunk it’s teeth into Lebanon, into Palestine and spread into the gulf region as well fomenting difficulties in Bahrain and elsewhere. They are both wary of Iran but concerned about engagement that walks over them on the way to Iran. How is this done, how do we dance this dance in a way to keep allies secure, at the same time rebuild a relationship, or build a relationship that we’ve never had, at the same time has our allies feeling that they’ve been involved in this process, while at the same trying to defang the Revolution?

Joseph Cirincione:Yeah, that’s exactly right- that’s exactly the conundrum you have here and we’re lucky to have somebody as skilled as George Mitchell working this on the one hand, and also people like Dennis Ross in the State Department now working this. Just a couple of parts of this: I believe there’s an arms race in the Middle East starting already- in the last two years you’ve had a dozen Middle East nations start civilian nuclear power programs- I don’t think they’re suddenly concerned about their carbon footprint. I think they’re starting to put together the technology that they need to match Iran’s capability should Iran’s program continue. It takes decades to do this. You now see this happening with Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey; all of them have started programs in the last couple of years.

James Zogby: Let me just stop you there. The UAE has signed an agreement with the United States…. Is that an interesting new model that should be followed, or could be followed?

Joseph Cirincione: There is a split over this- many of my colleagues think so, the Obama administration thinks so. I disagree- I don’t think we should be encouraging these countries to develop their own indigenous nuclear power plants- I don’t think we want to see anybody in that region developing nuclear power plants. And the agreement rests on the promise that all they’ll do is have the power plant- they won’t have the fuel fabrication facility like Iran has. But that’s a promise that they could change their mind on ten, fifteen years down the road. And this is interesting, this is the downside for Iran, you talk about pressures- to get back to that point that you made. What would Iran do with the Bomb if it had it? There’s a real downside to this; it’s that it’s not the last move in the game- it’s neighbors would then get the Bomb- does Iran want that? Does that improve its security situation? That’s part of the discussion we can have with Iran and in doing so we have to make sure there are close Moslem neighbors, allies rather, that would not sell them out…

James Zogby: How significant was the agreement with the Russians just announced yesterday?

Joseph Cirincione:It’s hard to overstate the significance of the Obama-Medvedev agreement- it really not only hit the reset button, but it laid out a substantive agenda, a work-plan they call it, and including cooperation on Iran- Russia’s absolutely key to solving the Iran problem. Without Russia you can’t do it….

Iran vs. Israel?

Claims are often heard that Iran poses a major threat to Israel, and could one day launch a nuclear attack against the Jewish state. There are some major problems with these claims. Firstly, Iran has historically been one of the staunchest supporters of the Palestinians. It seems very farfetched for Iran to decimate the Palestinian homeland. Not to mention the effects on other nations in the region. Nor does the Iranian regime seem to be suicidal- Israel’s arsenal is massive, and so is that of the USA. It’s conceivable that even today Iran could introduce a “dirty bomb” to Israel by land. Even that possibility seems remote, for the above-mentioned reasons. Iran does not have a history of attacking neighboring countries.

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